Fuck off, Father Time, or: My winter skincare routine

As 2015 really was the year my Asian beauty passion went into high drive, I feel like this is the year I’ve experimented the most. I really did enjoy playing around, trying lots of samples, and truly befriending my skin. I’d heard lots of talk about “knowing what your skin needed,” but for a long time, i really didn’t — mostly because my relationship with my skin was really shallow most of my life.

Until 2015, that is.

I’ve finally put enough stuff on my face, and learned enough from the AB blogger community (I love you all to death), that I’m starting to feel what my skin is asking for. Not just “That feels/smells good,” but “Ah — that’s RIGHT!” It’s some sort of magic juju, and I’m pretty sure the patron saint is a winged snail.

I’ve addressed a lot of things on this blog, but one thing I’ve been aware of since the beginning is that I needed to talk at length about my seasonal routines. Now that I have them, that is. Before I get into this, two warnings though. One, what works for me may or may not work for you (See Asian Beauty bible term YMMV), and two, this is not the end all be all of winter skin care routines. I’m always open to tweaking and improving it, which is why I hope you’ll tell me what works for you. I’m especially interested in learning how combo and oily skin types take care of their skin when the weather gets cold, because I don’t know enough about either of those.


Kookie, you slay me. ❤

Step one: Start with clean hands.

Yes, I count this as a step, and yes, wash them again even if you washed them five minutes ago. If you’re me you likely touched a cat in the interim.

Step two: Oil cleanse/massage (5-10 mins)

In the morning, it’s five minutes, and in the evening or in a bath, it’s ten. All of the lymphatic massages I use are in Chizu Saeki’s absolutely fabulous book “The Japanese Skincare Revolution: How to Have the Most Beautiful Skin of Your Life–At Any Age” which I praised to the high hills in this post. I cannot stress enough that this has yielded greater results than any single product I use. However, at the ripe age of 39 I have found that I need a thicker cleansing oil than most, so I favor DHC Deep Cleansing Oil or the Etude House Real Art Cleansing Oil Perfect 185ml.

One of many guides to how to massage the face (+ super adorbs girl!)

Step three: Cream cleanse
I also massage during this step but not as long as with the oil. Sometimes I use a lighter cleanser in the summer, but for winter a cream cleanser is the way to go for dry skin (and to be honest I think I might even try using my current one year round). I’ve fallen madly in love with two rose cream cleansers this fall, both of which are not AB but ARE delightfully low pH: Super Facialist By Una Brennan Rose Hydrate Brighten & Refine Facial Scrub and the NUXE Comforting Cleansing Milk with Rose Petals. I found both after a sad run in with the famed Su:m37 Rose stick, which gave me the worst breakout of my life. I’m thrilled to say I’ve found not one but two worthy successors, and while they don’t come in a portable stick, they do leave my skin feeling fresh and moist.

Step four: Sheet mask

During winter I mask almost every day if time permits. The reason why is because I know what my skin does when I don’t. It’s passable but gets really dull. I want to give it extra love when the weather is harsh so I make time at night for masking. In the AM I skip this step. I have a fave mask list in this post, but I suspect it’ll have updates soon as I plan to try out silk sheet masks very soon (whee!)


Step five: Curology prescription (includes Zinc Pyrithione, Clindamycin, and Niacinmide)

Many people I respect have raved about Curology, so I decided to try it out. I’m happy with my skin overall but I do have PIH around my mouth from my previous bouts with hormonal acne, so I decided to work with a Curology doctor to fix it. I’ve just started in December and my doctor has asked me to stay clear of actives while I work my way into it, so I can’t give a comprehensive review just yet on what it’s like. I’ll circle back on that in a month or so in its own post. I only apply this once a day in the PM.

Step six: Toner/Essence/Moisturizer

I used to do all these steps separately. Then I discovered the Goodal Moisture Barrier Liquid, which claimed to do the job of all three. Loving the idea of eliminating steps, I tried it out and was thrilled. However, it does contain alcohol denat (#8 on the ingredient list), so I decided to try another multitasking product that did not. I ended up with the SCINIC Honey All In One Ampoule, which I’m really enjoying and feels wonderful after it’s seeped beneath the surface. I totally respect people that want to do these steps separately but I am SO not one of them anymore. Fully converted!

Step seven: Serum

In “The Japanese Skincare Revolution,” master Chizu Saeki’s words on serum really hit home for me. She calls it the most important skincare step other than massage because serum is actually built to repair your dermal layer — in other words, the part of the system that gives your face firmness and elasticity. Neglect this step and you will see aging symptoms sooner. Combined with a light massage shaping the hands into a V and pressing from the chin up, I do serum AM and PM, which I allow to warm in my hands before applying. I use Missha Time Revolution Immortal Youth Serum, which is very much aimed at my age — I don’t think this product would work well for anyone under 30, but it’s ideal for me, reasonably priced for the quality, and smells lovely.

Step eight: Eye Cream

The rules here rarely vary — Choose one that feels good to you, pat it in with your pinkie, never drag the skin under your eyelids! I use GOODAL moisture barrier eye cream, which I like quite a bit.

Step nine: Moisturizer

During the summer I favor CeraVe products, but for winter I definitely need more moisture. So I usually do a layer of Mizon Returning Starfish Creamto seal it all in, or lately I’ve been swapping out with Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream, which is priced so well everyone should at least try it. The former has been discontinued for a bit so be wary if you buy it to check out the manufacturing date info and ask questions.

Step ten: Sleeping mask

During winter I use a sleeping mask every night. My current favorite is Goodal Waterest Vital Sleeping Pack, but I’ve been swapping out some nights with the TONYMOLY Panda`s Dream White Magic Cream, which was a Christmas gift. Regardless of what product I use, I can tell the difference between when I use this and when I don’t when I wake up. I’m also really looking forward to trying the Goodal Anti-Wrinkle Pack with Lavender Oil in it. But I don’t need it … (the chant of every AB fan).

It’s a long list, I know — although I cut out several steps in the AM (so it’s only 6), so this is really the deluxe version of the routine. My face has been feeling extra moisturized and happy this winter thanks to Asian Beauty, as you can see in a photo I took last week — I’m wearing BB cream, brow pencil, and chapstick. That’s it!


And what are you using to do the same? Share your wisdom! ❤

[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.]


8 Comments Add yours

  1. daphne says:

    Found this post floating around on Asian Beauty and I’m so happy you shared it! Your skin looks great! I’m new to the whole beauty scene and stuff like this is VERY helpful.


    1. colettebennett says:

      Yay! I’m so glad Daphne! 🙂


  2. Thuy says:

    Wow, you look amazing for 39! I am just starting out on an AB routine this month and is seeing great results. I think I will look at some cream cleanser to add in my winter routine after reading this.


    1. colettebennett says:

      Thanks thuy! You’ll see a big difference with a cream 🙂


  3. DY says:

    Your skin looks fabulous! I thought a good 1-2 min massage would good enough for the oil cleanse stage. I’ll have to look into the massages your suggested above.


    1. colettebennett says:

      You know, I find any massage does help, but if I give it a full 5 mins or follow the massages in that book, I see that I have s true glow that I really can’t get any other way!


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